Tag Archives: social programs

54. Free Public College

6 Apr

Recently, there have been proposals of a free (or low-cost) college education system. Having the government support the costs of a traditional college would be far too expensive. However, with some restructuring and innovations, three or four years of quality education and a degree could be provided for motivated high school graduates.  Different ways of developing a free college system could be explored in several localities and then generally implemented in the best way.

The goal of a public college would be to make the participant an “educated” person. This person would have reasoning and logic skills, could further self-educate, could research and fact find, would have good reading, writing and speaking skills, might acquire some specialized work skills, and would have a good understanding of the world that he/she lives in.  If the student has high grades in public college and is motivated, he/she would be eligible to enter a graduate or professional school. Transcripts of course-work and grades would be available, the same as traditional universities. Every public college would need to have USDE-recognized accreditation.

Here are some ideas that could be used in the first trials.

1. The public college could be an add-on to high schools. Administrators and space could be shared, with huge savings in cost. For example, high school ends at 2:30pm and college takes over for the late afternoon and evening.

2. The overall program would be federally administered, but state and/or local agencies would also participate. Nearby traditional universities might also provide help. Although some would consider free college a competition, most well-educated people are quite sympathetic to more education for the general population.

3. The public college would be focused on education and would not include research, sports, and other social programs, unless they were cost-free or paid for by students or contributions. Only courses in traditional subjects, such as mathematics, anthropology, physics, chemistry, computer science, economics, biology, business, history, etc. would be provided. Very specialized new departments such as found in some universities would not be included. To save money, art and music courses could be eliminated and would only be available from private institutions.

4. A small number of well-credentialed professors would be in charge of the courses. Most of the actual teaching would be done by advanced graduate students from nearby universities. Private universities also use graduate students for much of the teaching. The professors would provide some lectures. Volunteers from industry and elsewhere could provide additional lectures.

5. Duration. There would be three or four years of public college education. A student could choose an ordinary four years or a condensed three-year program by taking courses in the summer. An alternative would be the first two years tuition free and a low cost for the next two years. I have no special ideas at this time, about graduate school.

6. Instead of requiring students to pay for expensive textbooks, material for study could be a collection of Internet sites. Resources such as Khan Academy and Internet-published college lectures could be used without cost. I have logged thousands of hours of research using the Internet and am certain there is much more than enough free information to provide a complete four-year college education in every traditional subject. Existing “Federal work-study” programs would also help support the students.

7. There would be the usual regular testing in classrooms, administered by the professors and/or advanced graduate students.  Course grades would be recorded in the usual college transcripts, which would be available to potential employers.

The first trial of this low-cost Public College should be located next to a large state university. This would provide a supply of advanced graduate students for help with teaching, and if desired, students could take specialty courses as special students at the university. A source of administrators and professors might be retired university staff, that would help out at little or no cost. Recent Ph.D’s that have not immediately found jobs could spend a year or two teaching at the Public College — similar to the Peace Corps concept. Many foundations interested in improving education, would probably want to provide grants for this endeavor. There are brilliant young people that want to make contributions that benefit the world (and are not overly interested in wealth), that could start a project like this. To get this rolling, location in a desirable vacation area would be a good way to attract staff.


18 Sep

Throughout the world, in democracies and dictatorships, in old countries and developing countries, we see a destructive process, which I have named “wealthyvolution.” It is the social human evolution of a group characterized by extreme wealth. Through a process similar to “biological” (Darwinian) evolution, almost every country has developed a “Royalty” class that has the accumulation of massive limitless fortunes as its major goal.

Before I continue with this concept, I need to make clear that I believe in capitalism (with limitations), have run several successful private businesses for profit, and there are many very rich people who are decent and good citizens. Everyone should be able, and even encouraged, to acquire some wealth. I enjoyed the challenge of creating companies and making them at least moderately profitable.

This discussion is concerned with the development of a class of individuals that ruthlessly acquire massive wealth, often through governmental corruption, and at the expense of the non-rich. Much of the corruption is through lobbying congressmen and through other types of unethical influence. Many of the loopholes in our (USA) tax code, which benefit the rich, have resulted from this influence. It is well known that over the last 20 or 30 years, income for the wealthy class has risen steadily — and has been level or even lowered for the rest of us. What is the “basic cause” for this process.

The familiar “biological” evolution has as its basis, these major elements: 1. Survival of the fitest, 2. Natural selection, 3. Relatively permanent variations in offspring, and 4. Death.

Social groups (and many other entities) can go through a similar evolutionary process. The entity in biological evolution is individual species. The entity in “wealthyvolution” is a group of very rich humans. Examples of such groups could be industrialists, politicians or military officers. Let us look at the four elements of biological evolution mentioned above, as applied to groups.

Element 1 says that a group of persons that are effecient and effective and more likely to survive and prosper that those that are less effective. For Element 2, there is a selection process, but it is somewhat different from “natural” processes. The processes are familar to most of us and fall under the categories of social, political, and business. Simply put, a group will survive and grow if its members are prosperous and cooperative. Element 3 suggests that effective methods developed by the “Royal” group can be retained and utilized for long periods of time. Continuing our analogy, element 4 for a group would be turnover: people leaving and joining the group (by death, birth, etc).

What can be learned from this comparison of biological and social evolution. Biological evolution says that if you are superior you are more likely to survive and reproduce. “Wealthyvolution” says something similar: if your group makes more money and has more power (influence, etc.) then it will survive, grow, and cause the extinction or suppression of competing groups. The competing groups are you and me, the non-rich, the middle-class, the poor, and even some of the moderately rich.

There are important psychological factors that promote the acquisition of wealth far beyond what is needed for good easy living. Many rich people were poor at one time and were afraid of unexpected losses. Their early fears can continue far beyond what is appropriate. Many were trained by their parents or teachers to be competitive. Many have never associated with poor people and do not understand their real problems. I suspect that for many, acquiring great wealth is a “game” (like gambling, for example) and the obsession with the game causes them to ignore the destructive consequences. Their efforts are often cheered on by friends and associated executives. A top executive is supported by employees of lower rank who know the way to advancement.

Where can we see this evolutionary process at work? Here are some examples. A recent US Supreme court decision made it easier for rich people to provide massive campaign contributions, allowing them even more influence over legislation beneficial to rich people. “Trickle-down economics” says that if you give rich people more money, it will trickle down to the rest of us (this has never happened). A century ago in the USA very rich people consolidated their resources and made themselves more profitable at the expense of others. Fortunately, this resulted in “anti-trust” legislation which helped to solve this problem. The government allows very rich people to use “off-shore” accounts to escape paying their full share of taxes. During the last 100 years, tax rates for rich people were gradually diminished, by influencing congressional decisions. A paradox of government is that many officials are very rich and there is a clear conflict of interest: rich people voting on legislation affecting their own income.

Certain congressmen propose budgets that provide lower taxes and subsidies for people already extremely wealthy. Oil companies and farmers that are very successful continue to get government subsidies. Many ordinary citizens do not have the ability to see through the untruthful statements used to support this anti-social agenda, and vote against their own interests. We need better education.

Very rich people often deny that poverty is serious, or say that poor people are lazy and do not deserve any help. They do not recognize that poverty can be caused by gigantic medical bills, accidents, theft, investment problems, lay-offs due to economic conditions, bad advice, and many other factors that have nothing to do with laziness.

How do the non-rich feel these effects. First of all, they pay higher than necessary taxes and have lowered salaries. They get decreased services, such as fewer teachers, police and fireman. Programs that traditionally helped poor people, such as food stamps and unemployment compensation are diminished or abolished. We see massive increases in educational and medical expenses. Unions that have helped middle-class workers have been attacked. Certain politicians make demands for lowered government spending (usually on programs that help the poor) so that more money can go to the rich people.

It is a “natural” and expected process that some very rich people will strive to acquire wealth far beyond what is required for good living. Genuinely moral people see this as greedy and immoral. It is also “natural” for the non-rich to struggle against this process. When leaders go too far, there are massive protests and even revolutions. A study of history shows that in most cases, violent revolutions have been caused by rich leaders taking too much from the rest of the population.